A Q&A with Coach Dan Mullen

Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen talks with the media after Saturday's scrimmage.

The offense seemed to have a great day today, scoring 11 touchdowns, 5 pass and 6 run, and 2 field goals.
"They did. I am really happy with the quarterbacks performance. We are a quarterback-driven offense and those guys were on today, and did a great job managing and distributing the ball to the receivers. When we are throwing the ball like we did today, then we are going to have the ability to put up some numbers. It was evident from the first play of the scrimmage, a 65-yard touchdown pass on the first play. That started things off right."

The offense looked good with the two-minute offense at the end of the scrimmage.
"They did, but, again, that's due to the quarterbacks. This is not the quarterbacks first time through it. This is Chris' (Relf) third spring with us. And he's coming off being a full year of being a starter. So, it's a much more relaxed guy in those situation. There is no panic from him. And that helps. And Tyler (Russell) has taken a huge step forward in everything that he is doing. You can see that confidence that they have on the field."

You mentioned getting things cleaned up after a practice earlier this week. How much did Relf have to do with that?
"A bunch. When the plays were there, they made them. And I think that helps the offense. We are still very young on the offensive line and we have some inexperience there as well. And we mis-matched some different groups but I think the skill players kind of made up for that today.

"I am disappointed with the defense. From play one, when they gave up the big touchdown pass, nobody stepped up. They kind of let that be the theme of the day. But we'll get that fixed."

What were some of the issues with the defense?
"To me, what the issues were with the defensive stops. There was a great play by Corey Broomfield with the interception in the endzone. But there were only two three and outs (offensive series) during the entire day and one of them was with the three (defense). The one defense didn't get a single three and out the entire day. Even though there were some stops we have to get off the field and change the momentum."

It appeared the offense was clicking on third down plays.
"Yeah, but we didn't get a lot of pressure (on the offense) up front today. But we did some mix and matches of some different groups on defense and really forced some younger guys to play. But when you come to the stadium you will find out who can step up and make the big plays."

Do you have some concern at the offensive left tackle position based on where you are right now?
"The fact that we have four more spring practices and twenty-nine before a game, I don't let it concern me. I'm not in to much of a panic right now, but I'm not comfortable with it. We do have a lot of time and we do have two guys who I feel have the ability to play it. We just have to get them ready to play it. That is a comfortable feeling to me."

Talk about the balance you had from your offense today.
"When you can throw the ball you are going to be able to run it. To me, the fact that the quarterbacks were hitting their receivers, converting the third downs, managing the play action game and taking shots when they needed to and checking it down when they needed to, that is what opened up the running game today."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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